Mechanical Turk hailing from Switzerland with a taste for traditional folk hymns that effortlessly blend together with modern electronic rhythms.
In a world of crate diggers, willfully eclectic selectors and micro-scene experts, few DJs and producers maintain the curiosity, bulletproof taste and unique identity of Mehmet Aslan. Born to Turkish immigrant parents and raised in Basel, Switzerland, a childhood absorbing Turkish music was only the beginning of an esoteric trip down a rabbit hole of fascinating, often unusual music, enrapturing dancefloors with his own record collection alongside his own, equally varied productions. A talented graphic designer, much of Aslan’s work encompasses his own art direction, adding additional layers to compliment an ever-expanding musical consciousness.
Aslan’s teenage years lead to a typical but in his case, truly obsessive dive into record collecting, chalking up hundreds of house and techno releases amongst friends.
However, holding onto his more extensive collection and taste for the offbeat sounds of his childhood, Aslan began to edit some of the more unusual records into his collection, directing their qualities towards the dancefloor. This willingness to embrace the risks and foster a curiosity that other DJs might avoid was key to his celebrated residency at Basel’’s Hinterhof club, as well as ever since.
Before long, Aslan’s musical curiosity and quickly evolving productions found favour in a number of labels across the world. From Glasgow, Huntleys & Palmers released edits from Aslan on two editions of their celebrated Highlife edits series. Such was the wider positive response to his edits, H&P invited Aslan to contribute his own music to the label, resulting in 2014’s breakthrough EP, ‘Mechanical Turk’. Some years later in 2020, Aslan returned to H&P sub-label Highlife with Horonizer, an
EP that paid subtle tribute to the life of a recently deceased Kemence player from the Black Sea region. He has also contributed a number of fascinating edits to Hamam House, the unpredictable label of close friend, Johnny Rock.
Aslan was the first artist to release on the label arm of Basel-based creative agency, Planisphere, prior to a roster that now includes legendary experimentalist, Michal Turtle. His two EPs so far - ‘Khdir + Ilyas’ and ‘Lobster Is Coincidence’ are equally distinct trips into sophisticated psychedelia and minimalism, dripping in character. And just as Aslan’s music tends to tell a story, more often his music assists in telling others. The title track from ‘Alysha’, released on Discho Autonomo in 2018
was selected by director Paolo Sorrentino for the soundtrack of HBO’s acclaimed series ‘The New Pope’.
Storytelling is a key influence on one of Aslan’s other significant projects, ‘Music For Books’. A celebrated and significant radio show broadcast on London’s Worldwide FM, Music For Books sees Aslan blend the pleasure of reading with the curation of personal soundtracks. An evolving examination of our passion for art across different mediums, the show encourages both guest and audience to think about literature in different ways, exploring the relationship between sound & imagination. Music For Books was recently translated to a live performance at the Basel art institutions, Kaserne.
Whether in the confines of the DJ booth, exploring on the radio or establishing his own contribution to the musical landscape, Aslan continues to draw disparate lines between genres, eras and sounds, sewing a distinct musical tapestry that’s all his own, yet all yours to get lost in.
/ Text by John Thorp